If we are going to understand what Jesus meant when He said, “Blessed are the meek,” we have to look at three related scripture sets: the first is Psalm 37, the second is Numbers 12, and the third is the teachings of the apostles. We have already examined the first two sets; today we look at the third.
As the apostles, specifically James and Peter, remembered the life of their Savior, they knew that Jesus’ life was an example to follow. They also knew that Jesus described Himself as meek (see Matthew 11.29, though the NIV translates it as “gentle”). Since Jesus was meek, and we are to live like Jesus, how should we live?
James applied the life of Christ like this:
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly (receive with meekness) accept the word planted in you, which can save you. (James 1.19-21)
And again with these words:
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility (meekness) that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3.13-17)
There is a surprising similarity with the thought of Psalm 37 in the words of the apostle James. Both speak of not fretting over the deeds of the wicked. Both speak of not envying the fruits of the wicked. Both speak of refraining from anger. Both speak of trusting the Lord and doing good.
Peter applied the meek life of Christ as our example with these words:
For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 20But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 23When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2.19-23)
Though Peter did not use the word “meek,” he definitely described a moment in Christ’s life where Jesus was as gentle as a lamb led to the slaughter. Jesus did not retaliate. Instead, He entrusted himself to Him who judges justly. He was still before the Lord and trusted the Father to carry out justice.
With David, Moses, and Jesus as our examples of meekness, it must mean something very different from wimpy, doormat, or spineless. The meek inherit the earth, not because they sit silently in the corner until their name is called, but because they take bold stands for what is right while trusting God to act for righteousness sake.